Research

Well that settles it; science rules out existence of 'gay gene'

Well that settles it; science rules out existence of 'gay gene'

The study - the most significant of its kind - analyzed responses and performed analyses known as genome-wide affiliation studies (GWAS) on information from over 470,000 individuals who had given DNA samples and lifestyle information to the UK Biobank and the US genetics testing firm 23andMeInc. "This new research also re-confirms the long established understanding that there is no conclusive degree to which nature or nurture influence how a gay or lesbian person behaves", said Zeke Stokes of the US -based LGBTQ rights group, GLAAD. And only around 50 per cent of the markers, such as those linked to risk-taking, were found in both men and women, suggesting that different genetic influences affect different genders.

Among the human genome's approximately 30,000 genes, the researchers-who have previously presented research on this topic-found five variants related to same-sex sexual activity, though each one only minimally influenced an individual's sexuality.

It also turns out that one of these markers is associated with hair loss, which suggests a link with the regulation of sexual hormones. According to this paper, there is no single gay gene but many genes which influence whether or not someone will explore same-sex sex.

If it could be proven that same-sex sexual attraction is inherited, many would find it even easier to liken homosexual persons to racial minorities and castigate those who affirm biblical sexual morality as prejudiced and homophobic.

Researchers said that five locations in the human genome were associated with same-sex sexual behavior at a statistically significant level, though the five locations represent less than 1% of the genome's contribution. This approach is known as a genome-wide association study (GWAS).

"These are very, very small genetic changes we're talking about, like a single change in one of the letters to the genetic code", said Mr Ali, who was not involved in the study.

But if there is one, it's small. "Genetics is less than half of this story for sexual behavior but it's still a very important contributing factor".

As fallen human beings, we are all broken sexually.

"This study is the largest and most thorough investigation into the genetics of same-sex sexual behavior to date", said Director of Genetics in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University, study author Ben Neale. Some surveys recorded whether participants ever had a same-sex partner, and others recorded how people identified their orientation. Accordingly, people may react to our findings by saying either: "No gay gene?" Two of these gene variants exist in men only. Common measures of sexual orientation, such as the Kinsey Scale, rely on that simple continuum, but the findings seem to show our sexual preferences are more complicated than that.

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Why undertake research like this?

Steven Reilly, a geneticist at the Broad Institute who is on the steering committees of the organization's LBGT group, questioned the decision to publish the research in an online essay and raised concerns about several of the study's components.

"At best, our understanding remains essentially the same", he said. This group answered questions about sexual orientation.

"I think it's really important that we have a scientific understanding of how that diversity comes to be, and our place in the world as natural and healthy", she said.

This study isn't the first time scientists have searched for the biological underpinnings of queerness, though this line of research has always generated controversy.

Read the full study here.

A new study into the genetics of same-sex attraction reveals how complex it is. "And in about 12 of them laws can be used to put people to death for their sexuality".

One obvious conclusion from these results is that nobody is going to come up with a blood test to predict these sexual behaviors. We know that the proportion of people who are same-sex attracted varies from time to time, and from country to country, much too quickly to be only genetic. Thousands more genes appear to be play a lesser role; all told, genetics explained 8% to 25% of the variation between people.